Today is the final day of my blogiversary celebration! Thank you for following all the posts and participating in the giveaways! I hope you have enjoyed all the amazing food-themed therapy ideas from my SLP blogger friends. 14 SLP’s took part in this week’s “food-for-all!!” Not only are SLP’s a very bright and creative group of professionals, they are also very, very generous. So before Maria, from Communication Station talks about using food to learn about your five senses, I just want to recognize and give one more shout out to the following SLP’s for partying with me this week—and don’t forget the GIVEAWAYS are all open and running until midnight on September 8th!!! (see bottom of this post)
- Home Sweet Speech Room
- Smart Speech Therapy
- Twin Sister’s Speech and Language
- Speech Language Pirates
- Speech 2U
- Communication Station Speech Therapy
- Carrie’s Speech Corner
- Megan Moyer
- Speech Time Fun
- Busy Bee Speech
- Teach Speech 365
- Rock Chalk Speech Talk
- Figuratively Speeching
- Just Wright Speech
Who doesn’t love using food in speech therapy? I know this girl does!!!
Note: Please be sure to check for allergies before using any foods in therapy!!!!
Each year in the fall my little PK clients go back to school and the first month of school is all about learning about themselves, their bodies, their senses, and their families. I like to use food the week they are learning about their 5 senses so I can introduce concepts they may not have heard of before.
In therapy, we talk about what foods look like, how it feels in our hands and mouths, what the food sounds like when we are eating it, and of course the best part, what each food tastes like. This is where I focus most of the therapy session(s). I like to focus on introducing a variety of taste attributes such as: sweet, sour/tart, juicy, salty, crunchy, mushy, soft, and any other attributes you can think of. These are great vocabulary words that can be introduced at a young age but also can be used for our language delayed kiddos in early elementary school as well.
I like to begin with a little taste testing game! Blind folds are a MUST for this as I want my kiddos to “taste” that attribute (not “see” it). I use this activity for small groups (3-5 kiddos at a time) all sitting around a table blind folded with a small paper plate in front of them. However this can be done as a whole class lesson or a classroom station activity as well.
I take turns presenting them with the SAME food on each trial (initially). Keep in mind your younger kiddos will just want to guess what it is they are eating. That’s fine, I answer their curiosity by labeling the object after they tasted it and move on the concept I want them to learn. “Yes, that is a pretzel. How does a pretzel taste? Sweet or salty? Crunchy or soft?”
The process: 1.) place blindfold, 2.) place food on plate, 3.) tell all students to take a taste, 4.) let students shout out what they are “tasting”(with blindfolds still in place), 5.) have students remove their blindfolds (I just have them pull up to forehead but keep on head…saves time) to see the food and talk about the attributes you want them to learn, 6.) replace blindfolds and start again with next food item.
Ok so what are my go to foods that I use? Well I try to keep it fairly healthy with a little fun at the end. I separate foods into three main categories but as you read through you can see how multiple taste attributes can be added to each food item.
For my salty and/or crunchy/crispy concepts like to use foods such as mini/stick pretzels, baby carrots (or carrots cut up like chips…that’s a GREAT way to trick their little minds into thinking they are eating chips and it’s amazing when my kiddos say, “I don’t like carrots but I like these!”), and goldfish. Animal crackers are great for a crunchy but sweet taste!
For my sweet taste I will use various types of raw fruits (apple slices, bananas, pears in fruit cups, etc.) and dried fruits (trail mix is great for some crispy dried fruit…just be careful with the nuts and allergies). I can add concepts such as crunchy/crispy, mushy, and even juicy for these various fruits.
For my sour/tart taste I like to use dill pickles (hamburger slices are the perfect size), pineapples, cranberry raisins, and yogurt (I was surprised when I first started to do this to find there are some younger kiddos that find different yogurt tastes to be less sweet and more tart…so I find that interesting and our taste buds are all different and there are no right/wrong answers here!). Soft/mushy concept is great with bananas a previously stated as well as cheese sticks (NOT directly from the fridge) or a dollop of cream cheese.
A few fun items:
Fruit snacks are fun b/c you can buy sweet ones AND tart ones (the tropical ones are more tart) so that is a fun way to compare the tastes of a same textured food. Also I like to add just a few fun candies at the end if I can…one skittle, a sweet tart, maybe a sour patch candy, and of course a Hershey kiss and the fun is complete!!!!
Remember, you can always revisit these taste attributes during various holidays as candy canes, and jelly beans are all made in different flavors.
Graph it/Chart it:
The last piece of this activity is to add some pre or early math concepts of charting/graphing to the mix. I will use butcher paper to create a huge graph and will graph out the number of students who label each food with various taste attributes. Once our graph is complete we count them and visibly teach concepts such as “more than/less than/fewer/equal to/ greater than”, etc.
The above picture is a mock up of what my foods poster/graph looks like. When I worked in the schools, I happened to do this activity before back to school night, so a poster like this was hanging on the wall, in the hallway in front of my speech room. I had several parents come up to me and tell me how “neat” they thought that idea was to teach their children how foods taste. It made me feel good and it was a nice way to visually show parents one way speech and language therapy can be very practical and functional.
Anyway, that is one of my very favorite ways to use food to introduce a number of vocabulary taste concepts while incorporating some math fun!
Happy Talking and Eating!!!
Maria Del Duca, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in southern, Arizona. She owns a private practice, Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC, and has a speech and language blog under the same name. Maria received her master’s degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She has been practicing as an ASHA certified member since 2003 and is an affiliate of Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. She has experience in various settings such as private practice, hospital and school environments and has practiced speech pathology in NJ, MD, KS and now AZ. Maria has a passion for early childhood, autism spectrum disorders, rare syndromes, and childhood Apraxia of speech. For more information, visit her blog or find her on Facebook.
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